MP’s fury over council freesheet blagging’ Royal pass
PUBLISHED: 15:28 20 May 2009 | UPDATED: 14:22 05 October 2010
AN MP has today called for a full inquiry into attempts by a Town Hall weekly freesheet subsidised from council tax to get a pass to cover a royal visit by claiming to be part of Mirror group newspapers. A reporter from the freesheet applied to the Newspaper Society, which administers the Royal rota, to cover Prince William’s visit to London’s East End for the local press
AN MP has today called for a full inquiry into attempts by a Town Hall weekly freesheet subsidised from council tax to get a pass to cover a royal visit by claiming to be part of Mirror group newspapers.
A reporter from East End Life’ applied to the Newspaper Society, which administers the Royal rota, to ask to cover Prince William’s visit to London’s East End for the local press.
But the society smelt a rat when reporter Shalina Hussain claimed in an email that East End Life,’ which is owned and run by Tower Hamlets council, was part of Trinity Mirror.
Council media bosses trying to downplay the fiasco called it “a cock up rather than a conspiracy” and insisted it was “a mistake” by a “junior” member of staff.
But George Galloway, MP for Bethnal Green & Bow which is in Tower Hamlets, would have none of it.
He slammed East End Life’ which he said tried to “mislead the Royal authorities.”
Galloway added: “It beggars belief that this was just an honest mistake’ by a naive young reporter.
“This is scandalous and all the more reason this freesheet should be investigated by the Office of Fair Trading and by the Audit Commission.”
The Newspaper Society gave the royal rota’ pass instead to the long-established East London Advertiser for Prince William’s visit to the Whitechapel Gallery on May 11.
The fiasco has rumbled on this week with Opposition councillors at the Town Hall drawing blood.
Liberal Democrat group leader Stephanie Eaton says the deception took East End Life’ to a new low level.
She added: “The council should apologise to the East London Advertiser and its journalists for trying to cover local news by blagging their way into the visit of Prince William.”
And Deputy Tory group leader Tim Archer is raising a formal complaint with the council.
The Newspaper Society campaigns against council-run freesheets paid for by the taxpayer which divert revenue from established newspapers and threaten local democracy in the process.
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